‘Fat-free’ marshmallows, sugar-flavoured waters and protein-boosted dairy products are all recipients of this year’s Bad Taste Food Awards announced by Consumer NZ today.
Sue Chetwin, chief executive of Consumer NZ said the awards were launched to highlight food companies marketing their products as healthier choices than they really are.
She said many the products nominated for this year’s awards were full of sugar, yet carried claims designed to make them appeal to health-conscious consumers, such as “no artificial sweeteners”, “natural” or “fat-free”.
“But it’s not just sugar that’s the issue. Food marketers have a variety of tricks up their sleeves to make us think their products are better choices. Our aim is to highlight these claims,” Ms Chetwin said.
The recipients of this year’s Bad Taste Food Awards are:
Pump flavoured waters: The Pump range of flavoured waters boast they’re “low in sugar” but each bottle contains more than four teaspoons of sugar.
Pams Toasted Muesli and Countdown’s Toasted Muesli: The sugar content of these toasted mueslis has increased a whopping 44 and 20 percent respectively since Consumer NZ’s 2012 investigation.
Anchor Protein+: Anchor Protein+ dairy products claim their higher levels of protein give “Kiwis the strength to tackle whatever life throws their way”. But the truth is most of us are consuming more than enough protein.
Nice & Natural Fruit Snacks and Mother Earth Vege Fruit Sticks:These snacks both claim to have “no artificial colours or flavours” but what they do contain is high levels of sugar, in various guises.
Oki-Doki Marshy-Mallows and Betta Mallow Bakes: Both these brands label their marshmallows as “fat-free”. It’s a move straight from the food marketer’s handbook of dodgy tactics: both products are more than 50 percent sugar.
Lipton’s Ice Tea: The label on the bottle of Lipton’s Peach Flavour Ice Tea states: “No preservatives, no artificial colours, no artificial sweeteners” but this liquid gold contains 26g of sugar. That’s more than six teaspoons in each 500ml serve.
Sanitarium’s Up&Go breakfast drinks: Up&Go drinks claim to offer “slow release energy” and “10 essential vitamins and minerals”. However, if you drank an entire 500ml bottle, you’ll have consumed between 9 and 10 teaspoons of sugar.
Gourmet salts: Some manufacturers are keen to advertise their salt as containing iron, calcium or magnesium. But these claims should be taken with a grain of salt as these minerals are only present in trace amounts.
Ms Chetwin said although laws are designed to prevent companies misleading consumers about the goods they sell, food manufacturers continue to push the boundaries.
You can read Consumer NZ’s full report on the Bad Taste Food Awards at consumer.org.nz and in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Consumer magazine.